Editor's note: This is one of a series of guest columns as part of National County Government Week topic of Greening Our Future.
Everywhere you turn, the economy is in the news and the outlook is dim, so say those who predict our fiduciary futures. With these and other fiscal reports, this isn't exactly the best news for working commuters, especially since we don't have many choices other than driving a car to get to work.
The Tampa Bay region is on the way to making improvements in our transportation systems, ones that will help people move around, not just vehicles. Some of those processes will take time; even with all the money in the world (which we can't claim to have) it would be difficult to get major projects developed quickly (rail, bus, rapid transit, etc.).
In the meantime, there are choices, ones that will save you money, reduce your fuel consumption, get you around in a reasonable fashion, and even help the community become greener.
What are these choices?
Take the bus: it's easier and more cost-saving than you might think. THE Bus is an essential element to maintain a vibrant community and economic climate. THE Bus reaches out to all communities and creates more choices to address the needs of a growing and evolving population.
For only $25 a month ($12.50 for seniors, students, and the disabled), THE Bus provides Hernando's residents and visitors easy access to jobs, schools, medical appointments, shops, and other services; thereby providing people with mobility, choice and freedom. For some, it is literally a lifeline. For more information on how you can get on board, call 754-4444 or visit THE Bus web site at www.hernandobus.com.
Or, join a carpool. Not only can you save money, you can make friends, reduce the stress of your commute, nap, and a whole host of other things.
Ride a bike or walk to work, Hey, you might even try biking to your transit stop and combine your commute with "Bikes on Buses." It's good for the body and the wallet.
Telework. Talk to your employer about working from home some or all of the time; technology is a wonderful thing. By the way, if you're choosing not to drive alone for your work commute, you may qualify for the Emergency Ride Home Program, which is a free taxi ride (some restrictions apply) from work to home in case of emergencies.
No one says you have to do any of these things all the time. However infrequently you change your choice, consider that when you don't drive alone, you save money, the environment, and much more.
Small steps equal great strides in almost anything in life. If you don't know how to get started changing your transportation options, call Bay Area Commuter Services at 800-998-RIDE or visit www.TampaBayRideshare.org. We'll be glad to help you decide what choices work for you.
Sheila Martin is planning/marketing manager for Bay Area Commuter Services and Mary Stahl, is marketing and outreach coordinator for Trans-Hernando/THE Bus.